A petition in Amherst, Massachusetts has now garnered enough signatures to spring a March 19th town meeting that would leave the future of the town’s minimum wage in the hands of the town’s voting members. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. The Massachusetts minimum wage is $8.00 an hour. If higher minimum wage advocates in Amherst get their way, its minimum wage could be $15 an hour.
22News’ Matt Caron reports, some businesses are skeptical of the new proposal.
Some say it would force employers to cut hours and jobs.
The proposal appears to have the support of at least some small businesses. Like Amherst Books. Co-Owner Mark Wooton said they believe in a living wage and would somehow manage the extra expense. “We would probably have to work the salaried people a bit more, but were pretty close to the $15 an hour rate as it is.”
Lower wage workers like Lily Wheeler told 22News she can see both pros and cons to $15 minimum wage. “If you increase the prices with minimum wage everything else will go up just like it always does, but I wouldn’t complain with $15 an hour.”
The minimum wage hike proposal includes an enforcement provision to help pay for the mandatory wage increase. A $500 per day, per employee fine would be imposed on any business that doesn’t comply.
Even if Amherst town residents agree to the $15.00 an hour minimum wage increase, Massachusetts state lawmakers would have to draft and pass a similar bill.
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